tonight on "nightline," murder for hire. after three murder attempts, who was trying to kill this society wife? prosecutors say it was her husband, his mes tres and three clumsy hitmen. tonight, a real life soap opera lands in court. paisley power. he's the explosive country star with a nice guy grin and a lot of hits under that hat. tonight, brad paisley on love, fame and being the host with the most. an abc news exclusive. and candid condi. so, xa exactly did mow more gadhafi said to her in his kitchen? and is president obama fighter the war on terror better than the people who launched it? george stephanopoulos sits down with a frank interview with the former secretary of state, condoleezza rice. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with
terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," november 1st, 2011. >> good evening, i'm bill weir. thanks for checking in tonight. in the genre films, hiring a hitman means a briefcase and a photograph, works almost every time. but real life is a little bit messier and paying to have someone killed is a transaction rife with all kinds of complications. cops are called, money is stolen, gunmen miss. tonight, the story of three famed murder attempts and one incredibly complex marriage. here's abc's john donvan for our series, "crime and punishment." >> reporter: the disturbing math of yet another murder for hire plot. yvonne stern and unbelievable, three times, is gun mn have tried to kill her. >> unusual amount of people are
involved. >> this is the second accused hitman to go to trial. >> reporter: the first, february 2010, the house was sprayed with bullets. she wa't at home. the second time, april, 2010, she and her family were home, this time, the shooter missed. the family moved out of their house and into this luxury apartment complex. the third time, may 2010, she was finally hit in her suv, inside the gated parking lot of her apartment building. the bullet went through her purse and makeup bag and hit her in the stomach. she managed to drive to this gas station. >> when i seen the lady get out the car, bent down, saying that, you know, i was shot. >> reporter: this witness said weeks later he received a threatening phone call. >> said, you should have let this b die. now she's made my life a living hell. >> reporter: the shocker in this story is who prosecutors say was behind it all. stern's husband, jeffrey, a
prominent lawyer. and his alleged former lover, michelle gaiser. prosecutors believe she hired this middleman to find hitman. first up, this 28-year-old who worked at a tattoo parlor. the second, this 38-year-old, was found guilty of aggravated assault and is now serving 45 years in prison. and now, the third alleged hitman, damian flores, is standing trial. today, gaiser who has pleaded guilty to hiring the gunmen, took the stand to testify against flores. sobbing, she admitted that she gave him $15,000 to make that third attempt on yvonne stern's life. i made a horrible mistake, she said. there isn't a day that goes by that i don't regret what i did. i'm very ashamed of what i did. i feel bad for her and the people i've hurt because of my actions. murder for hire. the mob might be good at it. they're professionals. but it's the amateurs that keep getting caught. as in a case we covered last year, dana campbell learned there was a contract on her life and the person putting up the
money was her teenage son, matthew. >> he's my son. no matter what, i will always love him. >> reporter: you trust him? >> at this point, no. no. i don't trust him at all. >> reporter: but caught, matthew only last month was given a five-year sentence. or foremaner food network star juan carlos cruz who is serving time for trying to hire two homeless men to kill his wife. the amateurs just don't realize what they're getting into, says former fbi agent brad garrett. >> people believe until their sort of naive state that they can get somebody else to commit the murder. >> reporter: if that guy pucks the trigger, i'm clear. >> right. >> reporter: take the case that exists on tape. >> i'm 5,000% sure. >> reporter: dalia, of florida. who sought she was paying a gunman to kill her husband, but it was actually an undercover cop reporting it all. they were onto her, because she made a rookie mistake. >> they step to a friend or
someone they knew in their past and what happens, in a vast majority of the time, the person they step to goes to law enforcement. >> reporter: in her case, the charade went as far as the police actually convincing her that she succeeded, that her husband had been shot dead inside the house. >> i'm sorry to tell you, ma'am, he's been killed. he's been killed, ma'am. >> no, no. >> reporter: later that same day, though, they confronted her with the recordings. >> i didn't do anything. >> listen to me. >> i didn't do anything. >> you're going to jail. >> reporter: and then they confronted her with the news that her husband is still alive. >> i didn't -- >> you want to see him? >> i don't want to see him. >> he doesn't want to see you. >> she's under house arrest, while apeopling a 20-year sentence, and is divorced, obviously. but maybe obviously isn't the word. because back in houston, the sterns are apparently still together as a family. yvonne stern did file for divorce but now she's changed her mind. perhaps accepting what seems to be her husband's defense.
a man who could be described as smarter than the plot itself seems to be, that it was his girlfriend hiring the killers and that he had no idea. >> she lied before, she couldn't tell the truth if she had to. >> reporter: jeffrey stern has been indicted but pleaded not guilty. his trial is in february. the couple holding hands in public. >> he had nothing to do with this and could not do anything with this. we are victims of a fatal attraction. we're getting past this. i forgive him for his indiskrexs. >> reporter: indiscretions? maybe giving everything that's happened, that's not the word, either. i'm john donvan for "nightline" in washington. >> amazing story. thanks to john donvan. and just ahead, he says he's waiting on a woman. but there's more than one love in brad paisley's life, and he tells us all about them. we're going to head on into the interview. mr. and mrs. nadimpalli... baba...
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>> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city with bill weir. >> he is the kind of star who can sell out venues built to host professional sports, who tours in his own personal airplane, whose log cabin runs about 6,500 square feet. but anyone who has met brad paidley can attest, if you didn't know him, you wouldn't know. he's good people, as andrea canning finds out in our series, "on the town." ♪ you don't mind waiting on a woman ♪ >> reporter: he's had 20 number one hits. won three grammys and is married to a movie star. but you might call brad paisley the anti-celebrity. even sings about the fitfalls of
fame in his song, "celebrity." ♪ i blame it on the fame >> i don't understand, necessarily, why someone would just want to be famous. because the fame part of things is only really useful when it comes to restaurant reservations. this is where i had my first publishing deal right here. >> reporter: he certainly has had no problem getting reservations here in nashville where he got his first big break with his first hit single "who needs pictures?" and the first time he heard it himself in the car? >> hey, we have a new guy. in here, about ten minutes ago, he just left if you are listening in the car, brad, let's hear that song on the radio for the first time, how about it? and they played it. it was crazy. really neat. >> reporter: in his new book, "diary of a player," this country music star claims he cares more about making people laugh than money and fame.
but is that really possible? he says he steers clear of those common celebrity troubles, when he can help it. >> i got pulled over the other day for suspected dui. so funny, because i don't ever -- i am never drunk. i hadn't had a drink at all. i had two kids in the backseat. i was on my way home from -- >> reporter: that will do it. >> we had been out for ice cream. my kids are the greatest thing that ever happened to me. and they told everybody that daddy got arrested. >> reporter: he doesn't drink or smoke. the only vice involved six string. >> i don't have overcoming addiction story other than the guitar itself and i haven't overcome that. >> reporter: he says he opens his grounding to his grandfather, who gave him his first guitar at age 8. >> he said, you can play this instrument and three, four hours later not remember what you were upset about. and that's all he wanted. he didn't care if i was successful. he wanted me to be happy.
♪ get a little mud on the tires ♪ >> reporter: and he's a player who entertained over a million people on his tour this year. but getting here wasn't easy. struggling to make it, he almost quit a few times and here at this local college, well, things didn't exactly go so well. so, this is where you got your d in guitar? >> this is where i -- yeah. this is where i broke all kinds of records for how possibly low your gpa can be and still graduate. >> reporter: of course, we now know paisley's an ace on the guitar, but it did take awhile for him to conquer love. >> i'm engaged. i'm getting married! >> reporter: the song writer couldn't have scripted a better love story. it's straight a romantic comedy, and it all started with the movie "father of the bride." after paisley's first love broke his heart, he couldn't move on. so, he went back to the same theater to see the sequel of their favorite movie, hoping she would be there. >> friends of mine talked me
into going to see the movie on the anniversary of when we went to see it. >> reporter: by yourself? >> by myself. and if it's noent be, she'll be there. >> reporter: did you feel like a bit of a loser? >> yeah. and i still do. but that has nothing to do with that. but i basically did that. i've debated on whether to get flowers. i was so convinced by then that she was going to think of it. >> reporter: she never came. and that's when fate intervened. it was the movie's leading lady, kimberly williams, who he wanted. he devised a plan. >> i used the idea of, i'm going to put her in a music video, if she'll do it. >> reporter: isn't that how all the guys do it these days? >> it is. be careful, these casting calls, it's sort of the new "bachelorette." >> reporter: his idea worked. kimberly starred in his view owe. soon after, they got married and now have two sons. next wednesday, paisley will coast the country music awards for the fourth time, with the other woman in his life, carrie
underwood. where no hot topic is off-limits. ♪ well she caught tiger with some tail ♪ ♪ it's plain to see >> reporter: this year, he gave us a hint about who could be a target. who is the headline this year, then? >> well, there's hank jr. >> reporter: yeah. today, paisley is helping and inspiring the next generation of artists. he co-wrote "what if she is" with new artist, brent anderson. >> this is yours? >> i got another one just like it. >> i like it. >> reporter: the guitarman can't help but make sure this fresh talent has his very best strings attached. for "nightline," i'm andrea canning in nashville. >> oh, grandpa would be proud. the 45th cma awards, co-hosted by brad paisley, will air next wednesday, november 9th. thanks to andrea for that.
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a pew poll last month found that only 44% of military veterans think the war in iraq has been worth fighting. only 36% of civilians think so. but the leaders who took us into that war continue to see things differently, including former secretary of state condoleezza rice, who spent some time with abc's george stephanopoulos for tonight's "nightline interview."
>> the united states has conducted an operation that killed osama bin laden. the death of awlaki is a major blow. the rest of our troops in iraq will come home by the end of the year. >> reporter: when it comes to the war on terror, it has been a remarkable year for president obama. despite sinking poll numbers and a struggling economy, the president has scored a series of foreign policy successes. america's long war in iraq will end. and a litany of public enemies are dead. but with a smaller u.s. fo footprint and fewer troops in harm's way, the approach is a big shift from the policy set forth by george w. bush. secretary condoleezza rice was one of the architects of that strategy. she was bush's national security adviser when al qaeda struck the twin towers. she was a member of the president's inner circle, perhaps his closest personal adviser. and later, the first ever african-american female secretary of state.
>> i, condoleezza rice, do swear -- >> reporter: are we seeing a different model now? >> well, i don't think there is a case to be made that saddam hussein would have gone down like moammar gadhafi. he would not have. >> reporter: why not? >> he had a bigger army. gadhafi was a monster, but saddam hussein killed 400,000 of his own people. >> reporter: you had a complicated relationship with a gadha gadhafi. to say the least. especially one particularly bizarre meeting with gadhafi in his private kitchen when he decided to show her a strange video. what was going through your head? >> what was going through my head is, how long do i have to sit here? it was actually just pictures of me with various leaders. and he said, i had libya's best composer write this song for you, and it was called "black
flower in the white house." and this is a really, really strange moment in my time as secretary of state. and why he had this strange fascination, i think, i'll never really know. >> reporter: and when you say him being dragged through the streets? >> revolutions aren't pretty. >> reporter: neither is policy-making dur wartime in her new book, "no higher honor," rice takes her critics to task. she clashed with vice president cheney and defense secretary donald rumsfeld. the relationships were contentious and strained. cheney claims rice tearfully admitted it was a mistake to urge bush to apologize for the incorrect 16 words during his 200 state of the union. >> the british government has learned that saddam hussein sought significant quantities of uranium from africa. >> reporter: did you go to him with tears in your eyes, saying he was right about the iraq speech? >> not that i remember. sort of not like me. >> reporter: it seems like vice president cheney came away from this whole experience, eight years, working with you, with less respect for you, asked if
you were a competent secretary of state, his answer was, in some regard. >> i can't speak to that. the vice president and i had our differences. >> reporter: as for the famously brusk rums femd, rice remembers confronting him directly about their distant relationship. >> i said to him, you know, i don't know what's gone wrong between us. and he said he didn't either. that we always got along, which was true. and he said something about me being bright and it's -- >> reporter: something about that word -- >> it bugged me. one of the words that you don't use about a colleague. >> reporter: condescending? >> i use it about my students. >> reporter: with such high stakes, the office politics may have imposed a heavy cost. >> reporter: didn't all this dysfunction add to the price we paid in iraq? >> well, certainly we could have done better. but you have to remember also that this was a big problem situation, iraq. >> reporter: so why she may admit so some shortcomings and praises the obama's team recent successes, she still believes the bush administration paved the way. >> when you look at the
foundation for the capture of -- or the kill of osama bin laden, when you look at the continuation of the counter-insurgency in afghanistan, i think it's pretty clear that a lot of the foundation was laid years before. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm george stephanopoulos in new york. >> fascinating conversation. thanks to george. looking toward to tomorrow night. cynthia mcfadden talks with a certain trophy wife from a certain modern family. >> you were skinny, too, as a little girl. >> yeah. >> there was a nickname. >> yeah, toothpick. i suffer because, you know, always, everybody was more like voluptuous and in my culture, a skinny girl? has nothing going on. >> sophia vergara certainly has a lot going on these days the star of "modern family" will be here tomorrow night. and we hope you are, as well. thanks for watching. check in with our friends at "gma" in the mng